Wivelsfield resident joins fellow cyclists on 800-mile journey in memory of friend’s daughter
A Wivelsfield resident is part of a 14-strong cycling team riding from the Scottish Highlands to Wiltshire in memory of a three-year-old girl who lost her battle with a rare form of blood cancer.
Matthew Law, 38, is currently taking part in the 800-mile fundraising challenge to support the work of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and The Institute for Cancer Research.
He is also supporting his friend Jody Wood, 42, whose daughter Artemis Alice Wood died in November 2019 after she had been diagnosed with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukaemia (JMML).
“We really we wanted to do something to raise funds for the Marsden,” said Matthew, whose mother is Carola Godman Irvine of Ote Hall Farm in Burgess Hill.
“It’s been really great therapy and everything for Jody and all the guys, just talking about Artemis’s life and catching up,” he said.
Matthew said many of the cyclists had not seen each other for two years before this challenge because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that he, Jody and rest of the gang are members of the Rawhides, an amateur cycling club of ex-pats that was founded in Singapore.
“Jody founded the Rawhides cycling club for people new to Singapore to meet each other, keep fit and keep away from the dreaded Singapore stone, which ex-pats seem to put on when they arrive,” said Matthew.
Matthew said that he had been in Singapore to set up Asian media intelligence business Telum Media while Jody was working for Reed Smith.
But, for many reasons – ‘Covid, Brexit, the world getting smaller’ – he said most members of the Rawhides returned to the UK.
“It’s been a great bonding exercise bringing everyone together and meeting some amazing people along the way,” said Matthew.
The team has received some celebrity shout-outs as well, he said, from Michael Ball, Chris Evans and Jodie Whittaker.
The Rawhides began their cycling quest last Sunday (July 4) in Durness and aim to finish at Jody’s house in Andover on Sunday (July 11), covering roughly 100 miles each day.
The planned route starts on the West Coast of Scotland and goes past Ullapool, Inverness, Fort William, Glasgow, Ayr, Penrith, the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and Oxfordshire.
Currently in the Peak District, the riders have been stopping overnight at the homes of friends and family, as well hotels along the route.
“We’re now 70 per cent complete,” said Matthew, adding that they have raised about £130,000 so far.
The riders are accompanied by a minibus, he added, which can help if they get into trouble, and also drives ahead to spread the word about their fundraising efforts.
“It’s been pretty gruelling,” said Matthew.
“We’ve lost three riders due to injury but the weather has turned now,” he said, adding that the sun has finally come out after a few ‘very wet days’.
“The toughest part of the journey so far is definitely the Yorkshire Dales and the climbing,” he said, describing the Buttertubs Pass as particularly difficult.
But he said the team is determined to use all of their energy and connections to bring awareness to children’s leukaemia.
Jody said he was ‘utterly blown away’ when all of his cycling friends agreed to the Durness to Wiltshire challenge.
“I actually thought only two or three of them would sign up to what was a pretty aggressive eight days,” he said, adding that everyone had to train hard and take time off work.
“It’s humbling really and it just makes you aware of how much love there was for little Artemis,” he said.
Jody said there are many theories about why leukaemias and myelodysplasias can happen in children.
One reason, he said, is genetic defects occur in the womb that can be triggered by aggressive flu later on.
Jody said that Professor Mel Greaves at the Institute of Cancer Research, is one of the people looking into its causes and is one of the people he wants to support.
He said Artemis was a courageous little girl and hopes that the ride raises valuable funds in her name to support care and treatment for other children.
Jody also said his family is honoured that the Institute of Cancer research named one of their new collaboration hubs The Artemis Wood Collaboration Hub and has described the care she received from the Royal Marsden and St George’s Hospital as breathtaking.
People can follow the cyclists’ progress on Instagram or Facebook @fundraising4artemis.